Creating a new form of asphalt, Ghana is Building Roads out of Plastic

Thanks to Nelplast, plastic bags can now have a new life as part of a road as, what WEF describes as a new form of asphalt. Nelplast shreds the bags and mixes them with sand to create this asphalt, which requires fewer natural resources to create, lasts a long time, and is resilient to boot. And it’s not just plastic bags that can be utilized, but just about any kind of plastic garbage.

Network engineer Nelson Boateng is behind Nelplast; online publication Konbini said he developed the asphalt, which is comprised of 60 percent plastic and 40 percent sand. He created his own recycling machine using scrap metal and started the company to recycle around 4,400 pounds of plastic junk. The Nelplast website says Boateng possesses “over 20 years of experience in the recycling industry.”

WEF’s video said Ghana’s Ministry of Environment already has the paving blocks in one district, and it wants to help Nelplast scale up. In addition to helping clean up the environment, Boateng has created jobs; the company directly and indirectly employs over 230 people.

Nelplast aims “to seek the interest of the environment first in all [their] processes.” For example, the company also sells plastic roofing tiles and offers consulting in launching recycling companies. Their objectives include recycling “about 70 percent of plastics waste generated by the country daily into useful products that can be used for a lifetime.”

Featured image:  The end produce – Nelplast.

 

Lacy Cooke, Inhabit, June 4, 2018

https://inhabitat.com/a-company-in-ghana-is-turning-plastic-bags-into-roads/

 

 

Bike path in the Netherlands made from plastic waste

Dutch cyclists rode down the world’s first bike path made entirely of discarded plastic this week, in a move aimed at reducing the millions of tonnes wasted every year.

The 30-metre (100-ft) bike path in the 1,300-year-old northern town of Zwolle contains the equivalent of 500,000 plastic bottle caps and is estimated to be two to three times more durable than traditional roads.

“This first pilot is a big step towards a sustainable and future-proof road made of recycled plastic waste,” the path’s inventors Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma said in a statement. . .

Leading environmental expert Guus Velders welcomed the new initiative by Dutch engineering firm KWS, pipe maker Wavin and French oil major Total, saying it was a “positive step” towards a more circular use of materials.

However, Emma Priestland, campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said the solution to plastic pollution lay in preventing its unnecessary use in the first place.

“Using plastic to make bicycle paths may help to keep plastics out of landfill and … but it’s still unclear what happens to this plastic as the surface of the path is worn away,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.

Cities such as London, Amsterdam and Paris are looking at how they can shift to a circular economy – reusing products, parts and materials, producing no waste or pollution and using fewer new resources and energy. . . .

A second bike path is expected to open in the northeastern Dutch village of Giethoorn in November.

 

Plastic drinking straws may be the most unnecessary plastic product we use

Of all the plastic products we use and take for granted, plastic drinking straws are among the most unnecessary. Designed to be used once and discarded, their only real purpose is to keep your mouth from touching a glass or ice. It made more sense in the days when contaminated vessels were more of an issue.

Now, there’s a movement to get people and businesses to ditch the straws. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is. In the U.S. alone, people discard 500 million straws every day, or more than 180 billion a year. That’s about 1.4 million kilograms of plastic sent to landfills and into the oceans every day!

Drinking straws have a long history and weren’t always a big problem. The first ones were made from straw, or any strawlike grass or plant. That changed in the 1880s when Washington, D.C., resident Marvin Stone was drinking a mint julep through a rye grass stalk. He didn’t like the residue it left in his drink, and so he wrapped paper around a pencil, removed the pencil, glued the paper together and a straw was born! In 1888, Stone patented a version made from manila paper coated with paraffin.

… The explosion of plastic’s popularity in the 1960s and into the ’70s spelled the demise of the paper straw. After that, most drinking straw innovations were as much about marketing as function — including the twisty Krazy Straw and the wide straw-and-spoon combo used to drink slushy drinks.

Plastic straws are now ubiquitous. Whether you’re ordering a takeout drink, cold coffee beverage, bar cocktail or glass of water in a restaurant, you’ll likely get a plastic straw unless you request your drink without it. And you should. As a Treehugger article notes, they don’t biodegrade, they’re difficult to recycle, they leach toxic chemicals into the ground and they can end up in oceans. Often, they’re incinerated, which puts toxins into the air.

Numerous campaigns have sprung up to get people to forgo drinking straws — or at least to use less environmentally damaging alternatives. Some restaurants have stopped automatically putting them in drinks, and others are using compostable straws, but most still offer plastic. International spirits company Bacardi has joined with the Surfrider Foundation for a “no-straw movement” as part of its Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future program. Surfrider, which has led campaigns against plastic bags, discarded cigarette butts and other ocean threats, has a “Straws Suck” campaign that encourages businesses to get rid of straws. In doing so, bars, restaurants and stores can save money as well as reduce environmental impacts.

As for alternatives, several companies sell re-usable and biodegradable straws made from metal, glass, bamboo, straw or paper. Some come with cleaning brushes. One company is even making straws from pasta, which can be cooked later!

… Avoiding plastic straws won’t save the oceans or the world on its own, but as we’ve seen with plastic bags and public smoking, when people start thinking about their habits and making small changes, they can bring about shifts in consciousness that lead to wider societal changes. Ordering your drinks without straws is a small sacrifice but a big step to reducing the amount of plastic we produce and waste. Giving up disposable drink bottles, plastic grocery bags and other unnecessary plastic items, and encouraging businesses to offer alternatives, will also help.

David Suzuki ~ Plastic Straws Suck

David Suzuki ~ Plastic Straws Suck